In the space of just 18 months John Nevin’s life was turned upside down. He was the victim of two vicious and unprovoked attacks by gangs that left him hospitalised with very serious injuries. But it wasn’t the physical scars that destroyed John’s life, it was the substantial mental health issues that followed. The ensuing psychological damage caused by the attack saw John’s world unravel, resulting in him losing his job, 14-year long relationship and even his home – turning to alcohol to help him cope.

“I was referred to BCHA to be put in supported housing whilst I was tackling my alcohol addiction. I was given a support worker and eventually started volunteering in their customer service team.

During my time as a volunteer, the team were so supportive and encouraging, making me feel valued and wanted. The staff helped me rebuild my confidence and have faith in myself – I don’t think I would have had the confidence to go for a job without them.

I now have a part-time job at Dorset Mind where I’m using my experiences of homelessness and mental health to help others on their journey. I feel as though I have a greater understanding and empathy for the people I’m working with, and it’s heart-warming seeing despair and anguish change into hope. I’m putting my own personal journey into practice every day by helping others in a very similar situation – it’s really very rewarding.

“BCHA isn’t just a housing association, they reach out and make huge changes to the marginalised. They really do change lives.”

After years of being isolated and mistrusting of people, I never thought I’d get employed again. I am now socialising within the team and am responsible for a lot of people. My future is really positive – people look at me and see that there’s a second chance in life. BCHA isn’t just a housing association, they reach out and make huge changes to the marginalised. They really do change lives.”

John’s piece of advice for changemaking:

“Don’t be ashamed if you’re struggling with mental health. Be truthful about your emotions and how you’re feeling, and seek help and support.”

  • £5 can provide a bus fare for a day to access activities and appointments
  • £60 can provide a new outfit for a person coming to us from the street with no clothing other than what they come in wearing.
  • £1,000 keeps a Rough Sleeper in emergency accommodation for a month
  • £5,000 would buy 60 starter packs for customers moving into a new home, which would include, kitchen starter set, dinner set, Bathroom towel set, duvet, pillows, full bedding set
  • £10,000 would currently cover the interest cost on a private finance loan of around £333,000 that could fund the building of around three new homes